Welcome to ArtSpace
After months of exploring community needs and planning, the
Watauga County Arts Council is celebrating the grand opening of its new location, the Blue Ridge
ArtSpace, this weekend.
The council will host a grand opening celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8. Located at 377 Shadowline Drive, Blue Ridge ArtSpace is a community arts center “soon to be filled to the brim with beautiful art and the lively sounds of classes, lessons and workshops in music, arts, crafts and more,” WCAC executive director Cherry Johnson said.
Since the council is partnering with Appalachian State University’s Craft Enrichment Program and Community Music School, Johnson said the ArtSpace will offer a wide array of activities and learning opportunities for all ages.
The grand opening celebration will begin with music, food and a special moment at 6 p.m., dedicated to thanking the many people who have made the Blue Ridge ArtSpace a reality, Johnson said.
An assortment of old-time, classical and jazz music will be presented throughout the evening. Beginning on the front porch, which Johnson called “the perfect space for picking, concerts and even outdoor art classes,” there will be an informal gathering to play old-time music at 5 p.m., and musicians are welcome to join.
After the official opening events, there will music in a classical vein inside, featuring noted local flautist Akal Dev Sharonne. At 7 p.m., the porch will be claimed by local band High Standards, performing popular American standards. Led by saxophonist Steve Frank, the band incorporates contemporary music, crooner tunes and more into its repertoire.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair along, “so you can find a spot to relax and enjoy the music after you’ve finished exploring the building,” Johnson said.
Inside, visitors will be treated to visual art. The Main Gallery, which Johnson said has a naming opportunity with sponsorship, will host the wildlife paintings of Todd-based artist Pat Grant, whose wildlife, still-lifes and murals “reflect his love of the natural world around him.”
Grant’s paintings are on the walls, but in more ways than one. “As a professional painter, he was one of the primary painters of the walls of the Blue Ridge ArtSpace,” Johnson said.
In the Open Door Gallery, which also offers a naming opportunity, the arts council is featuring the photography of Elizabeth Wegmann, who started photographing wild pony herds in 2010. Wegmann said she spends many long days hiking all over Grayson Highlands and Mt. Rogers Highlands in Virginia to find and photograph them.
The Serendipity Gallery, which Johnson said will also carry the name of its sponsoring business, will showcase the works of art students in classes taught by Marcia Holmes at the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center and the Cove Creek Community Center. Throughout June, the gallery will feature the works of one of these students, Jean Stillwell, who has been living in the High Country for more than 40 years raising a family of two daughters with husband, Dan.
In the Tarheel Footprints Children’s Gallery, the council presents work from the Kids of Art Mart. John Bond, a member of the WCAC Advisory Council and a former board member, is showcasing the work of his young students at the Art Mart Academy in Boone. Each month, the Tarheel Footprints Children’s Gallery will showcase the work of child artists from around Watauga County, Johnson said, adding that each school in the county is being contacted and offered a month in which they can feature the work of their students.
“We are looking forward to many exciting creative displays,” Johnson said.
Also on Saturday, artist Tunde Afolayan will present his own creative display — a live and animated performance painting — in the ArtSpace’s side yard.
In addition, the Blue Ridge ArtSpace will feature demonstrations inside. The center features six colorful classroom spaces, which Johnson said will soon be filled with a variety of learning opportunities, each showcasing the talents of one of the area’s artists.
For this first evening, the arts council classrooms will feature area artist Kyle Keeter, who will be drawing and paintings with watercolors; author Bill Kaiser, who will be sharing his two historical novels, “Bloodroot” and “Hellebore”; artist Marianne Rooks, who will be presenting a stained-glass demonstration; the Cove Creek Rug Hookers, presenting a brief exhibition of their work, consisting of an assortment of hooked items, from wall hangings to pillows to a purse; musician David Gabriel Smith, who will present a classical guitar demonstration; and author Nancy Kaiser, who will share from her book, “Tales of An Animal Communicator — Master Teachers.”
The ArtSpace also offers visitors a chance to leave with a memento. The Watauga County Arts Council Gift Shop features the creations of local artisans and craftsmen, books, CDs and more.
Staffed by volunteers, the shop will begin its hours in its new home, from noon to 6 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Hours will be expanded as volunteer staffing grows, Johnson said.
“The gift shop and the porch are both opportunities for area businesses to provide support for the Blue Ridge ArtSpace through the space sponsorship program,” Johnson said. “So, the next time you hear about activities taking place on the porch or at the gift shop, you’ll hopefully be hearing about them as the ‘insert-business-name-here Gift Shop’ or ‘insert-business-name-here Picking and Concert Porch.’”
The shop is connected to the WCAC Hall of Fame, an area that will house the signs and plaques listing members of the 100 for $100 Club, a group of ArtSpace benefactors, Johnson said.
Beginning in July, the WCAC kicks off its Second Saturday Studio and Gallery Hop series. Participants will download a map from the council’s website, http://www.watauga-arts.org, or pick one up at the ArtSpace, to gather signatures from participating studio and galleries throughout Watauga County. When finished, hoppers can enter their map into a drawing at the ArtSpace for a donated work of art and then take in the arts council’s latest exhibits.
Galleries interested in participating should contact the WCAC at email@example.com. Johnson said there will be a meeting for interested gallery and studio representatives Tuesday, June 25, at 5 p.m.
For more information on the Watauga County Arts Council and Blue Ridge ArtSpace, visit http://www.watauga-arts.org.